COLUMBUS — Northmont suffered its worst defeat of the season Friday in opening round of the playoffs 41-21 at Pickerington Central.
The Tigers drove 59 yards in eight plays after taking the opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead 3:12 into the game. After the Thunderbolts were forced to punt on their first possession Pick Central mounted an eight play, 57 yard drive that culminated in a 31 yard field goal by Cameron Cubra to increase its lead to 10-0 with 2:33 remaining in the first quarter.
After another failed drive Northmont got the ball back when Logan Jewsikow intercepted a Demeatric Crenshaw pass at the Thunderbolts’ 45 yard line. Unfortunately that opportunity was squandered when Jeremiah Wood intercepted a Miles Johnson pass at the Central 34 and returned the ball to the T-Bolts’ 35.
The Tigers wasted no time boosting their lead to 17-0 with a seven play drive capped by three yard run by Lorenzo Styles with 9:34 left in the first half.
After another Northmont punt Central returned the kick 17 yards to the T-Bolts’ 42. In just under three minutes the Tigers drove the ball inside the 10 and Jermiah Wood scored on a six yard run to give Pickerington Central a huge 24-0 lead.
Northmont had never found itself in such a deep hole. Add to that a natural grass field soaked by a week of rain and the outlook was bleak at best for any hopes of mounting a comeback.
The Thunderbolts finally got on the scoreboard late in the half on a 26 yard run by Devin Kenerly. Brandon Goodwin’s kick made it 24-7 but Central added a 29 yard Cubra field goal to give the Tigers a 27-7 advantage at halftime.
Northmont took the second half kickoff and drove to the Tiger’s 13 yard line. Four passes into the end zone proved unsuccessful and the Tigers took over on downs at their 13. Pickerington Central put the game away on a 15 play, 87 yard drive that consumed the rest of the third quarter. Wood eventually scored on a two yard run with 11:48 left in the game to give the Tigers a 34-7 lead.
Central went up 41-7 when Jaquwon Crawford intercepted a pass along the right sideline and raced 81 yards for a touchdown with 7:46 left.
The Thunderbolts scored two more touchdowns late. On one drive Johnson hit Dawson Walker for a 13 yard gain and then connected with Donavin Wallace on a 45 yard completion for a first and goal at the ten yard line. Two plays later Kenerly scored on a three yard run.
The Tigers fumbled an onside kick with Andrew Knick recovering the ball at the Northmont 48. Two plays later Wallace took a handoff and threw a halfback option pass to Jabari Perkins for a 37 yard touchdown to make the final tally 41-21.
Of the seven Greater Western Ohio Conference teams that entered Friday night playoff games only three emerged with victories. Sidney (10-1) defeated Belmont 46-33. Centerville (10-1) defeated Hilliard Darby 35-0 and Trotwood-Madison (11-0) posted a 48-7 victory over Elida.
Troy lost to Cincinnati Anderson 33-0, Pickerington North beat Wayne 41-20 and Hilliard Bradley crushed Fairmont 49-14.
Pickerington Central and Hilliard Bradley will face each other in the second round of the playoffs this Friday at a site yet to be determined.
For Northmont the loss to Central came on a night where nothing appeared to go the Thunderbolts way early in the game, a point Coach Tony Broering agreed with.
“We played probably about as bad as we could in the first quarter,” Broering noted. “I don’t know if it was the atmosphere or the stage. We just didn’t play very well in the first quarter. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes… things we haven’t done all year, so it kind of put us in the hole. But, I was proud of the boys. They fought back and they never quit. We kept fighting at the end and had great effort in the fourth quarter with a great attitude, so that is all you can ask. Pickerington is a pretty good team.”
Central amassed 321 total yards, 230 on the ground, on 57 plays and controlled the ball for 27:04. Northmont had 287 total yards on 52 plays with 218 yards coming on pass plays. Johnson completed 16 of 28 pass attempts for 181 yards. Wallace went 1 for 1 for 37 yards and a touchdown. Kenerly rushed for 90 yards on 19 carries with 4.7 yards per carry and two touchdowns.
Pickerington Central quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw ran the ball 13 times for 107 yards and completed seven of ten pass attempts for 91 yards.